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Median price for a single-family home hits $700,000 in December

This quaint three-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot house on Front Street in Lahaina is listed at $2.25 million. The median price of a single-family home in Maui County in December hit $700,000 for the first time since 2006. This photo was taken Thursday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The median price of a single-family home in Maui County hit $700,000 in December — the highest price for homes since September 2006 — and “all indicators look like that is still going to continue to rise,” said the president of the Realtors Association of Maui.

Marilyn Griffin, a broker with Coldwell Banker Island Properties, said Thursday that low inventory, low interest rates, the “peak season” and multiple buyers bringing offers are driving up prices. All indications are that home prices will rise through the winter months.

“We aren’t seeing any indicators in a drop or tapering or flatlining,” she said.

Reflecting on the release of December and yearlong 2016 real estate data Wednesday, Griffin said that local residents in the workforce are “pretty much priced out of the market.” With current prices, it is “really hard” for teachers, nurses, police officers and families on single incomes to qualify for mortgages.

“It is very frustrating trying to help the first-time homebuyers and working people,” she said.

Most of the buyers these days are from California and other West Coast states, and “by midwinter, Midwest and East Coast buyers, as well, if the snow keeps up like it is,” she said.

Unlike in the past, there aren’t too many Canadian or Japanese buyers or an influx of international buyers from a particular country. The bulk of international buyers are purchasing property on Oahu, though there are some South Korean buyers in the Maui market.

“Koreans seem to be purchasing and interested,” she said.

Many of the buyers are seeking investment properties or their second or third homes and are plopping down cash for the properties, Griffin said. That puts first-time buyers and older buyers on fixed incomes at a disadvantage. As an example, she cited a retired couple losing its rental unit because it was being sold. The couple is priced out of market even at $500,000.

“It is really challenging for retirees or second-tier buyers,” Griffin said.

For 2016, the median price of a single-family home was $636,750, $56,750, or 10 percent, higher than 2015, Realtors Association of Maui data show. The number of sales was flat at 1,076 for the year.

“Inventory has really been an issue for the last few years,” Griffin said. “We’re begging for more smart growth, responsible housing.”

Central Maui had the largest number of homes sold, 346, but that total was 14 percent lower than 2015. South Maui regions, Kihei with 162 units, up 10 percent, and Maui Meadows, 28, up nearly a quarter, and West Maui regions, Lahaina 67, up 31 percent, and Napili/Kahana/Honokowai, 40, up 33 percent, logged double-digit growth in 2016.

Makawao/Olinda/Haliimaile recorded 22 percent growth in sales with 71 units sold in 2016.

The highest-priced homes were in the Wailea/Makena region with a median price of $2.8 million on 24 sales in 2016. The price was nearly double 2015’s price.

In 2016, the condo market logged 10 percent growth in sales to 1,310, but median prices were flat at $415,000. Kihei had the highest number of sales at 457, up 4 percent, with Napili/Kahana/Honokowai coming in second with 266 sales, up 36 percent. Central Maui sales increased 28 percent to 165 units.

Condos in Kaanapali and Wailea/Makena exceeded $1 million in median prices on more than 100 sales in each region.

For December, a total of 97 homes were sold in the county, four more than in December 2015. The median price of $700,000 was 27 percent higher than the $550,000 in 2015.

Condo sales in December were 122 units, up 21 units or 21 percent from a year earlier. The median price was $414,500, $4,500 higher than December 2015.

Griffin, who has experienced the dramatic ups and downs of the market in the last 16 years as a Realtor, said that 2016 was “a good market  . . . consistent, steady.”

Sales show “a steady slow incline, nothing booming, not a lot of ups and downs, a slow steady progressive year,” she said.

The experts are predicting the same for 2017, Griffin said, noting that the cyclical real estate market still appears to be on the upside.

The last time the median home prices were $700,000 was at the peak of housing prices before the 2008 market crash, which occurred amid predatory, subprime and low-documentation mortgages. During that period, things were “so dramatic”; multiple offers came in in an hour on a property, Griffin said.

The current market “doesn’t feel the same,” she said. Sellers still receive multiple offers, but it “is steady.” The closing escrow period is longer in part due to regulations imposed following the meltdown of the economy in 2008, Griffin said.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

* Housing prices. There were two statistical errors in a story on Page A1 Saturday about the 2016 and December home and condo sales data from the Realtors Association of Maui. There were 26 homes sold in Maui Meadows in 2016. The median price for single-family homes in Wailea/Makena in 2016 was $2.8 million, up 49 percent from the previous year. The statistics may be found at www.ramaui.com/UserFiles/File/Stats/All-December2016.pdf.

The Maui News apologizes for the errors.

* The Maui News wants to promptly correct errors in fact or make clarifications on information appearing in the newspaper. To report an error or clarification, please call 242-6343 or send email to citydesk@mauinews.com.

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